VI. Their Rims Were Tall and Awesome
“It should be you.”
In his study, Dodd, a block of pine on his knee, uncapped a bottle of industrial-strength wood varnish. At the window, his press agent Raymond Wachstetter reached on tip-toes to open the blinds and let some sunshine in. The squat man sniffed. With his long nose and the cottony tufts of his only hair wisping over his ears, he looked more or less like a penguin offended. He opened the window a crack, letting in cold air.
“What’s that?” Dodd asked. He daubed some varnish onto a rag and wiped down the pine.
“I’m looking at the list of best-sellers in Moldova,” said Wachstetter. “It’s showing here that the Springsteen autobiography’s topping the list there, but that can’t be right. It should be God Don’t Care. It should be you.” Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 2)”
I. In the Beginning
Gideon Dodd, he was a preacher man.
And during the first quarter of the twenty-first century in America, a preacher man with the gumption, charisma, booming voice, and winning smile of Gideon Dodd’s caliber could make a lucrative go of it. At forty-seven years old Dodd had long since been hosting the top-rated religious program on television. His radio show was syndicated worldwide, his brand of communion wine sold by the crate at Costco stores across the nation, and he’d written fourteen best sellers — a third of them cook books, the rest of a more expected theological bent.
If there was proof of a God, it was that men like Gideon Dodd could make good on nothing but their own fortitude and elbow grease — could grow up in a Baltimore housing project and, some forty years later, come to wake up every day in an Upper Manhattan townhome replete with an antique gun collection and marble sinks in the bathrooms. That he could replace his Armani suit with a Brioni when the congregation laid one too many clammy hands on him during altar call.
A good Christian man, a successful man, an articulate and family-focused man with teeth so white the makeup guys had to dull them down before airtime every Sunday morning: That was Gideon Dodd.
Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 1)”
Imagine me, five years old, and scared to death to open my eyes — to take even the bitsiest peep — during prayers at the dinner table, at church services, or weddings. Was it some rule set by my God-fearing mother, a warning from a Sunday school teacher, or just basic intuition? Don’t look or God can’t do His work!
Wherever the habit came from, you’d bet wisely on me gluing my eyelids shut anytime the words “bow your heads” or “let us pray” were uttered by a grownup. Once, I didn’t hear the conclusive “amen” and so sat there, waiting, head balanced on the clenched hands in my lap, until I was shaken awake at the end of a sermon.
I was seven, I think, when it dawned on me: Since I’d never taken even the slightest peek, I had no idea whether anyone else was obeying the rules so staunchly. Or if God Himself ever entered the room and folded his arms, watching everybody as he twirled his white beard of cloud and chuckled at us oblivious mortals.
Seven, and no baby anymore! Rebellion and risk called out to me now, rather than repelling me.
So at Auntie Rae’s funeral, I decided I’d take a good look around when the preacher lifted up his voice to the heavens and asked us all to stand there, like good boys and girls, with our hands wadded up and our eyes tightly squeezed. Just this once.
Continue reading “Implicated”